Today I am collecting the last of the work for my gaming unit and I will use this post to reflect on some things that I would do differently next time as well as somethings that I liked/would keep/stick out to me from this 2nd time through this teaching style.
I will start by saying that once again the students had difficulties completing all of the assignments and I ended up giving a four day extension (everything was supposed to be due last Thursday but I was out Friday and Monday so I gave them until today to complete everything at a maximum of 75% credit). One big issue that I am having with the way the game is set up right now is that the students are not getting to the Boss Battles until the end, which is how it is supposed to be. However if, for example, the students were to turn in 12 of 14 assignments but the two assignments that they didn’t turn in were the two Boss Battles, then it is very likely that they will be failing my class no matter what their grade on the other assignments because the Boss Battles are considered Project Grades which make up 40% of a student’s grade, which is a SCHOOL WIDE policy, so its not something I can change. There is an argument to be made here for spending more time in discussing game STRATEGY with regards to the game and explaining to students the possible ramifications with the decisions they make within the game. I think this is also a good argument in support of the epiphany I referenced in one of my previous posts in that if I were to have 4 categories and the students only had to complete up to Level 2 in all categories and then one or two Level 3’s (obviously this means the board would be smaller) then I could make all of the grades Participation grades (30%) or Homework grades (15%). I would then have projects and activities set up to delve deeper into the material and push for more critical thinking and better finished products after the students have completed the game which would count for Project grades (40%) and One Time Assessment grades (15%). I feel like this is one aspect of my current game set up that is legitimately unfair to students in that I had a number of students that finished and did well on all but one assignment which happened to be a Boss Battle and it killed their grade.
I am also still finding teacher burnout to be an issue. While I enjoy the opportunity to meet with each individual student everyday, it does get extremely monotonous and boring to do the same thing over and over and to grade the same thing over and over. I think for my own sanity I need to shorten the game and to create time that I can look forward to at the end of the game where I will get the opportunity to do large group activities with the students and to lead some class discussions. Like I have said in the past I am still convinced that there is a way to do this within the game structure. However, for where I am right now in the school year and in my experience as a newer teacher and what I have time to accomplish I think breaking the game down smaller and using it to get “background information” to the students in a way that they will actually engage with it as well as to introduce some critical thinking questions/themes that we will be addressing in the post game activities is the best route to take. This is how I will prepare my gaming unit that I will begin Tuesday April 17th after our Spring Break.
One big issue that I need to correct for the next time I use projects in the gaming unit is to include a grading rubric for each project as well as examples of what I would consider excellent work, average work and below average work. This idea came from Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom our HFLI Curriculum Director and it may seem obvious but it is not something that I had ever considered but I can see how it would have a HUGE impact on the quality of work that I get from students. I am hoping to post some examples of student work on here from my last unit as I am extremely impressed with quite a bit of it. However I think by providing these rubrics I can make that high quality work more consistent.
Overall, I am very happy with the progress that was made from the first gaming unit to the second. I think that the students have learned a lot of the material and have engaged with it quite well. I will have a better read on this after the students Final Exam next Tuesday in terms of how they did on retaining the material. My students continue to amaze me in terms of the quality of the work that they are capable of producing. It is very encouraging to me to see students that have struggled in the past to produce high quality work. This in turn motivates me to continue to find better ways to set students up for success in terms of producing that higher quality work.
I will also be having my students complete a Survey Monkey next week with their thoughts about the gaming unit. If I can figure out a way to do it I would love to post the results of the survey as well for all to view. On this same note, Jon Cassie will be coming to my school next week Thursday and will be doing some spot interviews with my students on the gaming unit and I will also have the opportunity to meet Jon IN PERSON for the first time and I am really excited about that.